By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive
UNITED NATIONS, July 21 -- As the UN Security Council held its first closed-door straw poll on the 12 current candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General on July 21, Inner City Press asked UK Ambassador Matthew Rycroft if it was too late for Australia's Kevin Rudd or others to get into the race. Video here. Rycroft replied that it is not too late, candidates can enter after the first straw poll pursuant to the Council's earlier letter.
Here from multiple sources are the results of the first straw poll; Inner City Press can also exclusively report that questions have arisen about dual nationality of some candidates, including Susana Malcorra (Italy), Christiana Figueres (France) and Vuk Jeremic (Germany), beyond their listed countries which nominated them. It should be noted that the UN's “PHP” forms require such disclosures.
From multiple sources, results of the first straw poll, in the format of Encourage - Discourage - No Opinion:
Antonio Guterres: 12-0-3
Danilo Turk: 11-2-2
Irina Bokova: 9-4-2
Srgjan Kerim 9-5-1
Vuk Jeremic: 9-5-1;
Helen Clark: 8-5-2
Miroslav Lajcak: 7-3-5
Susanna Malcorra: 7-4-4
Christiana Figueres: 5-5-5
Natalia Gherman: 4-4-7
Igor Luksic: 3-7-5
Vesna Pusic: 2-11-2
After the straw polling, Ambassadors said no comment and it went well; Council President Koro Bessho said much the same on UNTV. Inner City Press asked him if the actual results had been given to the President of the General Assembly. Bessho began to say yes, then clarified, no.
At least he took Press questions. The candiates most recently appeared in an event for which the UN did not even provide a UNTV camera at the stakeout so these qustions culd be asked. Inner City Press wasBanned from streaming Periscope from the exit of the General Assembly hall after the event.
The "frontrunner" Antonio Gutteres is the one without a Twitter account; the runner-up Danilo Turk to his credit wants whistleblower Kompass back in the UN.
It's worth remembering that Gutteres was dissed by Ban Ki-moon when he asked for one more year atop UNHCR. Sources say Malcorra and Andrew Gilmour, recently promoted without proper process, were involved in the decision on Gutteres. Revenge? Or just more of Ban's bad judgment, like he and his head of "Public Information" Cristina Gallach evicting Inner City Press as it covers the UN?
US Ambassador Samantha Power, who took no questions, named issues for the Next SG, from counter-terrorism to the sustainable development goals.
One wondered if the Obama administration has conferred with Hillary Clinton on its position - and what would happen if the Security Council hasn't decided later in the Fall and the US presidential race is still open.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said counter-terrorism is a separate issue; one wanted to ask him if France is as before linking Next SG to an Under Secretary General position, different this time than the UN Peacekeeping that Herve Ladsous has nearly destroyed.
Venezuela's Rafael Ramirez spoke at nearly the same time and was asked if he supports one of the two (for now) Latin American candidates. End of video here; we've noted that Alicia Barcena has been in New York.
Candidates to replace Ban Ki-moon as UN Secretary General worked it on July 13, with Vuk Jeremic, Christiana Figueres and Danilo Turk debating at CUNY, Miroslav Lajcak meeting with the Secrurity Council then opening a photo exhibit on the floor below it, and Helen Clark in DC.
Now on July 17, Kevin Rudd has made his move. Julie Bishop went public with Rudd's request for Australia's nomination to be Next SG; Rudd on Facebook said “I respect the internal processes of the Australian Government. I respect the fact that the Government has many other priorities at this time, having just been returned to office. This is a matter for the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and their colleagues at a time of their choosing.”
Existing candidate Bokova put off UNESCO's decision on Jerusalem until October, citing the failed coup in Turkey.
Meanwhile, as Inner City Press first reported, Security Council members are reaching out to candidates beyong the 12 announced - and beyond Rudd - to for a Next SG. We'll have more on this.
On July 13, weaknesses in Ban Ki-moon's final years were apparent in much of what was said. Jeremic said peacekeeping is failing and that an SG need a backbone - to Inner City Press this connoted Ban's back-down to Saudi Arabia, removing them from the Yemen Children and Armed Conflict list.
Danilo Turk recalled chiding diplomats for being unresponsible on vacation during an August of scorched earth in Kosovo, and said an SG needs to do that. Figueres returned to the topic of Haiti; even Helen Clark speaking in DC chided the UN's performance in Syria, at least during the first three and a half years. Video of Clark's presentation here.
(Whether UNDP has done better since then, and why UNDP and Clark have yet to hold a press conference on UNDP's role in the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery scandal remained unaddressed.)
Security Council president for July Koro Bessho of Japan said the Council met earlier in the day with Lajcak, after meeting Kerim on July 8th, Pusic, Gherman and Gutteres on the 11th and Malcorra on the 12th.
Later, Lajcak spoke at a photo exhibition opening one floor below the Council chamber, introduced by UN official Cristina Gallach, video hereand see explanatory petition here: Gallach evicted Inner City Press for seeking to pursue the UN bribery scandal in covering an event in the UN Press Briefing Room that was nowhere in writing listed as closed. Whenasked by the Special Rapporteurs on Freedom of Expression and Human Rights Defenders, Gallach claimed Inner City Press had an altercation: False.
Gallach without once speaking to Inner City Press - but having beenquestioned by it on her role in the Ng Lap Seng scandal, a role noted inOIOS' audit at Paragraphs 37-40 and 20(b) - ousted and then evicted Inner City Press this year, purporting to give its long-time workspace to an Egyptian state media which rarely comes to the UN and never asks questions. This must be reversed.
On July 14, Figueres will do her interactive dialogue with the General Assembly then a stakeout. Unless subject to Gallach-triggeredcensorship like on July 12, audio here, Inner City Press will be there. Watch this site.
Before ten candidates for Next UN Secretary General were asked questions in a General Assembly Hall given over to Al Jazeera, Inner City Press asked the UN and the President of the General Assembly (PGA) why there was no UNTV stakeout in front so other journalists could ask questions. None was provided but Inner City Press was told to just go there after the debate and ask questions.
The debate had questions mostly from Al Jazeera - no mention of Saudi / Yemen or the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case -- and from ambassadors. Whereas Al Jazeera had not asked the first panel of five candidates about peacekeeper sexual abuse, Liechtenstein to its credit did. But the follow up on the firing of whistleblower Kompass was not put to Susana Malcorra on the first panel, who was involved in the firing.
Likewise on Haiti cholera, without follow up Helen Clark said that she wouldn't comment on reparations because there is a case in the courts. But in this case, the UN - or really, the US for the UN which refuses to show up in court - is arguing for immunity. So the obvious question to candidates would be, would you waive immunity? Not asked.
Christiana Figueres raised her hand on giving an apology, but again said no to reparations. Ultimately, that's impunity. Here is a fast write-up of (some of) the debate, with Inner City Press / Free UN Coalition for Access commentary in italics:
Vesna Pusic: I’ve done a lot of jobs…but I truly believe in development, human rights. And I want to do this because I believe in countering cynicism. There’s a lot of cynicism in politics today.
ICP / FUNCA: Much cynicism about the UN springs from its impunity for rapes, cholera and corruption.
Gutteres: I want to help end human suffering, reduce conflicts. We have terrible threats like terrorism, climate change, and ordinary people don’t have enough of a voice. We need greater leadership and values. The Secretary General must be a solid, ethical reference. ICP / FUNCA: Currently not the case.
Malcorra: We need a UN that’s much closer to the people, driven by the issues. We need a secretary general who’s ready to lead and to listen.
Jeremic: We live in an era of great challenges: the UN is the only organization where we can address our global challenges. But there’s a great need for UN reform. ICP / FUNCA: On reform, agreed.
Gherman: ....Moldova…we must also work to find common ground and unity…
Vague question about what kind of leadership is needed at the UN
Pusic: In today’s world, there’s too much emphasis on being popular. Instead, we need deep conviction, perseverance, and courage.
Gherman: Secretary General’s job is to draw attention to issues that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Guterres: Communication is so important. And unfortunately, the UN does many important projects, but doesn’t communicate well. We need to speak clearly, in ordinary language, without relying so much on jargon. ICP / FUNCA: Gutteres has no Twitter handle, it seems.
Jeremic: When I was a young man, I witnessed the consequences of a catastrophic failure of diplomacy. I fought for democracy and human rights. We need an action-oriented leader, with concrete plans. This is not time for speeches, it’s time for action.
Question about the situation in South Sudan – should the UN peacekeepers be doing more? ICP / FUNCA: Question failed to included not only locked gate in Wau, but cover up of deaths.
Malcorra: What’s happening in South Sudan is “deeply disturbing”. There’s a lack of leadership. The UN mission has a mandate to protect people. But it doesn’t have a mandate to fight, or to try and stop the fighting between the parties. In the end it’s up to the leaders of South Sudan.
Question about whether “international justice” (the International Criminal Court) is biased against Africans
Guterres: The courts need to pay more attention to non-African issues.
Jeremic: This is a critical, significant issue, and we need to work towards a more perfect justice.
Malcorra: We need to do a better job of engaging with African countries to see whether the Rome Statute needs any changes. Africa needs to be more engaged, not less. ICP / FUNCA: Her Kenya example was nitty gritty.
Gherman: Peace is justice, and justice is peace…the current situation is regrettable.
Pusic: The system isn’t perfect, but it’s the best we’ve got.
Question about increasing the UN’s capacity to address violence
Jeremic: We need to devote greater resources to conflict prevention. We need to move a lot of staff away from New York, and into the field, so that there’s less paper shuffling and more action. ICP / FUNCA: Was Jeremic's 20% proposal the reasons Figueres at the end praised UN staff?
Question about gender parity (should there be an emphasis on giving women more jobs at the UN) Everyone says yes, gender parity is important; the women candidates stress this a lot more than the men. Gherman: we have to lead by example – inspire member states towards gender parity by choosing a woman to be SG.
Pusic: I’ll answer the question about women in public positions: I’m a woman and a feminist, and I think this is important, because the UN was dominated for 70 years by men.
Gutteres: I’ve served at the UN for more than 10 years as high commissioner for refugees. I feel obliged to present myself as candidate for SG.
Malcorra: this is a time when the UN needs to INSPIRE. We need a leader who can inspire, listen, and deliver. I think I can do that.
Jeremic: we are living in difficult times, but I do believe in the UN.
If you want more of the same old things, I’m not your candidate. But if you want a rejuvenated, reinvigorated UN, then support me.
Gherman: Whatever we do, we have one major ally: the people. If we manage to bring back the relevance of the UN to the people, win their hearts and mind, we’ve created a good partnership.
Helen Clark -- with her own video edits -- The UN has many challenges – development, environment, peace and security. We have to work to implement the agendas on climate change and development. But we really have to get better at preventing conflict and resolving conflict. And I have the vision to lead this organization to make a better, safer, fairer world.
Danilo Turk: We need to renovate the UN. For that we need experience, commitment, and vision. And I have great experience in human rights, political issues. It’s important to develop partnerships with civil society, academia, and the business community.
Figueres: I know this work is difficult, because I’ve done it. I was behind the most ambitious, unanimous climate change agreement. That was possible because we worked together with patience and determination.
Igor Luksic: We have to be ready for the new challenges that the world presents. In my part of the world there were challenges, massacres. We have developed a transitional experience that can show the world examples of what the world today needs. The UN faces major challenges. We have to work on gender parity, but we also have to prepare the world for the youth.
Bokova: There are 2 reasons I became a candidate for this position. We in eastern Europe have gone through a profound change, we are deep believers in multilateralism and in democracy because of that. I think that this experience means that I can lead the UN.
Question about the importance of geographical rotation:
Bokova: Geographic rotation is very important, for the culture of the UN, for the representation of all the countries. And I have done it by example at UNESCO.
Clark: My country belongs to the group called “Western Europe and others.” My little country has never had a Secretary General. I think we need a global search for the best talent.
Turk: Geographical rotation is crucial. If we want fair and decent processes, we need to work on the basis of rotation.But the Secretary General must serve the whole UN, not only his regional group.
Luksic: I think it’s right for the Eastern European group gets the chance to offer candidates. But this is about the challenges we’re facing in today’s world
Figeres: we need to open up the field as wide as possible to all candidates.
Q about the practical functioning of the Security Council
Clark: The Council is outdated, it still reflects the reality of 1945 and not today’s reality. I’d like to help change that.
Figueres: A good SG will help the Council members move towards the true common goal of peace.
Q: How would you move things forward on Israel and Palestine?
Bokova: We need to build trust. There’s a lack of political process, lack of negotiations. Without trust, this will be impossible to resolve.
Q: on Syria, what would you tell people affected by this conflict?
Turk: The UN has really lost credibility in Syria. We need to step up humanitarian assistance, the Secretary General needs to work to come up with more specific proposals before September.
Luksic: Secretary General always needs to take the lead and be proactive. People are becoming disillusioned in the UN, the way it does nothing but issue press statements and express concern. We need more honest discussions.
Question about sexual abuse committed by peacekeepers - from Liechtenstein
Figueres: I believe in zero tolerance for sexual abuse. Immunity cannot be impunity. All those who’ve been found guilty of sexual abuse must be held to account.
Clark: We must make sure all troops are fully trained. Any hint of abuse must be reported and taken seriously, any suspected abuser must be suspended and sent home to be prosecuted and punished. If countries don’t do that, the UN has to stop accepting troops from those countries.
Luksic: We have so many more peacekeepers than we used to, and the peacekeeping budget is huge. But there’s nothing more shameful than the idea that peacekeepers abused civilians. Those contingents should be removed right away and the guilty should be punished. The UN has to be a moral leader.
Turk: We have to learn a lesson from the story of Anders Kompass... I hope we can bring Kompass back to the UN.
ICP / FUNCA: But Al Jazeera didn't put the Kompass question to Malcorra, who was involved
Q about implementing the agenda for development
Bokova: adopting the sustainable development goals was a very big achievement. But to make the system adequate and comprehensive, we need involvement of the Secretary General.
Q: about the migration crisis
Figueres: We have 65 million migrants today, the largest number ever. Migration isn’t just a humanitarian issue; it has to do with peace and security and development. We have to make sure migrants are treated with dignity. We have to share global responsibility for the situation, and we have to look at the root causes of migration.
Turk: We have to implement and enforce international law on migration. We have to make sure migrants have the right to work.
Clark: The refugees who have come to my country are good people, looking for a fresh start. People don’t flee their homes for no reason. Any of us in their situation would flee. Turkey has allowed refugees to work; other countries are moving in that direction, and I give them credit.
Luksic: We need to focus on development.
Q about reducing gender discrimination and violence against women
Bokova: there is nothing more important than education – for girls and women. It empowers girls to continue with their lives.
Q about Haiti and the UN’s involvement in bringing cholera to Haiti: Raise your hand, would you take responsibility for bringing cholera to Haiti and apologize to the Haitian people?
Only Figueres raised her hand, and said the reputation of the UN has been tarnished. It was unintended; but we have to be responsible even for unintended consequences.
The UN is not in a position to pay compensation. But it is in a position to make sure the disease is eradicated.
ICP / FUNCA: Isn't this still impunity, then?
Clark: We have a case before the courts in this country. We can’t comment on that yet. Cholera is still in Haiti, and the critical thing now is to rally support now.
ICP / FUNCA: Moderators should have asked, Would you waive immunity?
Q about UN reform, Banburry piece
Bokova: we need to become more efficient. We need to give a bigger part of the budget to human rights and political missions.
Turk: We welcome criticism of the UN, we have to find ways to address it and reform. I’d like to meet with the Office of Internal Oversight to find ways to improve.
Clark: many people working in the UN are upset by the culture of waste and bureaucracy; this needs to be reformed.
Luksic: We need to review the budget and identify inefficiencies. It was recently found that 70 percent of development funding is mis-spent.
Bokova: I did a great job at UNESCO managing with a reduced budget, I could do the same as Secretary General.
Bokova: I will fight for dialogue, tolerance, peace. The UN should instill the feeling of a common community of values.
Luksic: We need to bring back a sense of optimism, engage with young people, extend partnerships.
Figueres: The UN staff has called for increased leadership, and I would be deeply honored to lead that team.
Turk: The UN can be criticized, but we have wonderful, hardworking people in the secretariat. We have to be humble, but also proud.
Clark: These are issues I’ve worked on all my life, and I’d relish having the chance to carry on that work and try to build a better future.
After the “debate,” which entirely omitted the obvious question of outgoing Secretary General Ban Ki-moon dropping Saudi Arabia from the UN's Yemen Children and Armed Conflict list was never asked by Al Jazeera, and even the name of former PGA John Ashe indicted for bribery including of Ban's Secretariat, Inner City Press ran to go ask those questions in front of the GA.
But it was not possible: the UN Media Accreditation office was closed, and no UN security officer on duty at the turnstile that Inner City Press' Ban-reduced pass no longer opens.
The eviction was for seeking to cover an event, nowhere listed in writing as closed, to pursue the Ng Lap Seng UN briber case; the ouster and eviction order were by Cristina Gallach whose participation in Ng's South South Awards Inner City Press asked her about, and whose lack of due diligence of Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation as it sponsored the UN's slavery memorial are criticized in the UN's own audit. This is today's UN: it must be cleaned up.
As the UN and UNDP bribery scandal gathered force Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of the Global Sustainability Foundation (GSF), David Ng Lap Seng's Sun Kian Ip Group and its affiliates including the "World Harmony Foundation" and South South News, among others.
The now expanded case has implications for Helen Clark, head of UNDP running to replace Ban, and the also-running Susana Malcorra, formely Ban's chief of staff. But for the July 12 "debate" involving this duo and all but two of the other candidates, current President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft's spokesman Dan Thomas told Inner City Press he would be surprised if the bribery case came up. Why not?
On July 11 Inner City Press asked Lykketoft why there will be no UN Television stakeout in front of the GA hall for the debate. Thomas answered, that the candidates will be too tired. Who decided? Inner City Press requested that a UNTV stakeout be set up; Thomas said “you are the only one to ask.” Inner City Press replied, “Take a poll.”
Later Inner City Press was told by UNTV sources that they can only distribute video of the debate in the GA Hall for ten days after it; “after that it's all Al Jazeera,” one of the sources said, disgusted. Privatization of the UN? We'll be asking.
Update of July 12: The Office of the PGA says the UN will still have rights to the video Al Jazeera shoot after ten days. Duly noted - and requested. Inner City Press asked them, and then Ban Ki-moon's spokesman, for a copy of the agreement. Neither has provided it; the latter said that's a question for DPI, on which he has refused to answer why DPI sponsored an event in the UN by the "Malko Investment Group." Nor has South South News content being in UNTV's archives been explain. We reiterate, a UN privatized and worse.
From Costa Rica: "On the 7th July, the President of Costa Rica will announce the nomination of Christiana Figueres as Costa Rica’s candidate for the position of United Nations Secretary General. The announcement will be made at an event in San Jose, Costa Rica." Inner City Press covered Figueres' successful 2010 race to head UNFCCC, and questioned her this year about Ban's Global Compact accepting in it coal companies.
On July 7 Inner City Press asked Figueres about the peacekeeper rapes in Central African Republic, about the Ng Lap Seng UN bribery case spreading to UNDP, and if the UN should pay reparations in Haiti for cholera. Figueres said immunity cannot be impunity, but that the UN cannot pay individual reparations. Some ask, isn't that impunity? In fairness, Periscope of audio here.
Inner City Press asked PGA Mogens Lykketoft's spokesman Dan Thomas if he expectes the Ng Lap Seng case to be asked about during the two hour "debate" with Al Jazeera on July 12. Thomas said it is such a "specific" issue he didn't expect it to be raised. Video here. Thus the UN is never reformed.
Figueres' informal with the General Assembly will be July 14, 3-5 pm.
The UN Development Program began its own audit, which Inner City Press published here, and asked Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric for a press conference about. Next SG candidate Helen Clark, having run UNDP for the last seven years, has not held a press conference on it.
Susana Malcorra, Ban's former chief of staff also vying for Next SG, in 2014 accept one of Ng Lap Seng's South South Awards. Inner City Pressreported this back in October 2015 -- and was physically ousted from the UN in February 2016 (audio here), and its long time office evicted in April 2016 (video here).
The pretext for both was Inner City Press seeking to cover, in a UN Press Briefing Room event that even the UN says there was no written notice of being closed, Ng's links with press corps insiders: his entities bought inflated price seats and got face time with Ban Ki-moon.
The evicting UN official, Cristina Gallach, attended Ng's South South Awards in September 2015, and was found to have failed to do any due diligence of Ng's Global Sustainability Foundation before allowing it to sponsor the UN's slavery memorial. Gallach told UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of an "altercation" which never took place; theUN claims it has "no records" while Gallach told Nobel winner Jose Ramos Horta she has an "internal report" which Ban's spokesman Dujarric refuses to answer about.
With pretextually reduced access, Inner City Press nevertheless asked Malcorra about the Ng Lap Seng case. Malcorra tried to write it entirely off to holes in the PGA's office; now a ponderous profile of Malcorra doesn't even MENTION the Ng Lap Seng / John Ashe case, as the UN's ouster and eviction of the Press, Ng's table- and slavery memorial-buying and Gallach's lack of due diligence were not mentioned. Who's the insider? This is today's UN.
But these questions must be asked and will be pursued. So will the impact of the expected Figueres for Next SG announcement by Costa Rica. Watch this site.
On July 1, Inner City Press asked this Ban Ki-moon spokesman, who was previously spokesman for UNDP's Helen Clark, who running to replace Ban, about the superseding indictment of Ng Lap Seng to include UNDP and all acts through September 2015.
Paragraph 12 names the Secretary General, who has tried to minimize the scandal, most recently offering unequivocal praise to John Ashe (RIP) unlike even Ashe's successor as President of the General Assembly Mogen Lykketoft.
Helen Clark's UNDP, meanwhile, has still not held the press conference about the scandal that Dujarric repeatedly told Inner City Press would take place once UNDP's audit was released. To some it appears Dujarric is covering up not only for his current boss Ban Ki-moon, but now also his previous boss Clark. This is today's UN.
If there are eleven and prospectively more candidates for Next SG, and one of them presides over a UN agency just named explicitly in a bribery case in which several defendants have already pleaded guilty, how long can this issue be swept under the UN rug, even if Dujarricuses the UN podium to cut off and shout down questions? Even as members of Helen Clark's troll army provide nasty "defense," along with UN scribes, to complement Clark's more sunny social media persona?
Others have noticed that Dujarric, who reappeared as Ban's spokesman after doing the same for Kofi Annan (after a period with a no show job in the UN's 1B basement then for Clark) may be positioning himself to continue at the podium if Clark wins. Only in the UN system is this even possible. We'll have more on this.
UN Transcript here:
Inner City Press: the UN bribery case of Ng Lap Seng has now had a superseding indictment that accuses Mr. Ng of buying benefits from UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and expands the time limit of the case up to September 2015. So, one, I'm wondering if you have any comment on this, as it seems to be an expanding case. And, two, I want to reiterate the request now for several months that UNDP hold a press conference, at least on the audit that it released, and… and state where… why the money that was given…
Spokesman: I think on your… on your second part, you can address that request to UNDP.
Inner City Press: I have.
Spokesman: I have not seen the new indictment, so I cannot comment on it.
Inner CityPress: You had said from here that they would do it. I've spoken to the head of the office, and he hasn't done it. I'm wondering, has the Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, head of the system…
Spokesman: I know where we are.
Inner City Press: Cover up.
Spokesman: You're always free and have always been free to express your opinions.
Dujarric said Inner City Press is free to say what it wants . Yes: from the street, to which Ban and his Head of Communications, with an assist from Dujarric, first threw Inner City Press on February 19 (audio here) then evicted its files (Video here.) On July 1, Dujarric at noon said he hadn't read the superseding indictment. Then he left the UN just after 3 pm, with no briefing for six days. This IS a cover up, on which we're have more.
The audit of Ban's Secretariat, completed early this year but first put online by Inner City Press, directly criticizes Cristina Gallach, the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information. On June 29, Inner City Press asked UN spokesman Farhan Haq, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: Monday down in… in Federal Court, there was a hearing for Mr. Ng Lap Seng in the ongoing case, and Assistant District Attorney [Daniel] Richenthal basically widened the case and said they're going to be… there's more things they're looking at as to Ng Lap Seng, and he also described in more detail a, quote, conduit of bribery taking place within the UN. And I wanted to know, since you've said you're monitoring it, what is the UN's response to the new information that was presented on Monday?
Deputy Spokesman: Yeah, we are aware of the latest information, and, as I've pointed out, the situation of South-South News is under review. It continues to be under review, but certainly, any new information is useful in light of that.
After the above, a corporate news wire which has a conflict of interest on this passed through South South News' claims that it has had "no connection with any government at any level" - this is false. But the conflicted corporate wire, with its own Permanent seat on the board of hte UN Correspondents Assocation which took money from Ng's South South News, merely passes through the denial. Call it journalism? We'll have more on this.
On June 27, former South South News reporter turned spokesperson for John Ashe and now his family wrote to the UN press corps, some of whom she saw over the weekend:
"Dear Friends and Dear UN and Media Representatives, I am kindly forwarding a Statement from the Family of the late John. W. Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly 68th Session, at the request of his widowed wife, Anilla Cherian.I have accepted to forward this Statement in my personal capacity and in honor of Ambassador Ashe’s legacy as a long-serving diplomat. I will not be addressing any questions and I do appreciate your understanding.
It was very nice seeing several of you over the weekend. I hope you are all doing well."
If the goal was to distinguish South South News from John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng, this doesn't do it.
The audit deals with South South News - which as of June 27 STILL has a UN office, photo here, UNlike Inner City Press. In Ban's UN one only gets due process if one has money, or pays money, as South South News did, including to the UN Correspondents Association which then gave Ng Lap Seng a photo-op with Ban. Or as the Saudis did to get Ban to remove them from the Yemen Children and Armed Conflict annex.
On June 27 in Federal Court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Richenthal said that South South News was a conduit for bribery involving the now conveniently (and mysteriously) deceased former PGA John Ashe. (Some with links to Ashe try to erase all trace, but here is one: UNCA with AAshe's spokesperson Konja, formerly of South South News), which one wire-with-a-conflict covering this story never mentions. Compare to this.)
Meanwhile while Inner City Press can only work with minders, its office given to Akhbar Elyom's correspondent, a former UNCA presdient, sits empty and Gallach gallavants in Paris. We'll have more on all this.
Ban's audit, notably, does not mention that Ban accepted Ng's South South Award and was in the program of Ng's August 2015 event in Macau.
Nor does Ban's audit mention that his Sri Lanka adviser Vijay Nambiar and his spouse, Ban Soon-taek, were both present at the founding of the Global Sustainability Foundation; the latter took photos with South South News' indicted Vivian Wang at the UN Correspondents Association ball where UNCA gave Ng, from whose South South News it took money, a photo op with Ban himself.
On April 16, at Ban's and his USG Cristina Gallach's direction, Inner City Press' long time UN office in S-303 was evicted and five boxes of files were dumped onto First Avenue. Video here and here.
On April 20, the Free UN Coalition for Access sign on S-303 was removed (photo here) without the consent of Inner City Press' office mate, also a FUNCA member, who was told that the lock was being changed, presumably to sell the office to someone else. Inner City Press immediately objected to MALU, the DSG, Chef de Cabinet and Spokesman, putting them on notice.
And lo and behold it was given to a former UNCA president who never comes to the UN, never asks questions: Saana Youssef of Egyptian state media Akhbar Elyom. This is Ban's UN.
UNCA, at least under Giampaolo Pioli, openly tells people to pay it money, it can get them UN official space. This is corruption.
Now since the eviction of Inner City Press, South South News has sent out a press release saying that despite the guilty plea by its President Francis Lorenzo and indictment of its Vice President Vivan Wang, it is clean - and blames its problems on a "few independent journalists." Wonder who's referred to - as the other one(s).
Not Reuters, which passes through without analysis South South News' press releases - and without disclosing that Reuters' Lou Charbonneau and now Michelle Nichols have occupied Reuters' permanent seat on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association, which took South South News' money then arranged a photo op for Ng Lap Seng with Ban Ki-moon.
South South News' founding is described in the John Ashe and Ng Lap Seng indictment; it is portrayed through gauze in the OIOS audit. The name South South News has appeared in the Panama Papers.
For now, another UN example. To deliver "personal" invitations to the South South Awards, which USG Gallach attended in September 2015, South South News needed access to the UN during the Septameber High Level week. So, Inner City Press is informed, South South News personnel got D or Diplomat passes through Lorenzo's Dominican Republic mission to the UN. Back, indeed.
Here are an initial two of many photographs of that event, these by Luiz Rampelotto of Europa Newswire via Facebook, including one of now indicted Vivian Wang of South South News with Mrs. Ban
Here's from South South News' press release:
"It is disgraceful that a few independent journalists are exhibiting a lack of professionalism and irresponsibility by attacking everything and anyone they believe is linked to this case. This is often done by insinuation, guilt by association and baseless assumptions that disparage many innocent people and organizations. Irresponsible assumptions, fact-twisting and misinformation serve to distort the perception of the situation, while affecting our hard work and the work of many innocent people who have absolutely nothing to do with this case.
These types of attacks are counterproductive and unprofessional. We believe these attacks reflect poorly on the integrity of the profession of journalism as a whole. Not to justify any illegal activities, but all sorts of organizations worldwide have been victims of unscrupulous people, as have other organizations facing similar circumstances.
We as employees will defend our hard and honest work and we will defend the commitment to our goals and objectives of producing quality journalism to inform about these important issues. This hard-earned reputation has been tainted by some unscrupulous acts. Many media and administrative professionals have proudly worked for South-South News and can attest to the integrity of our media operation.
This is a complex case in which many players from different organizations and events have been implicated, as detailed in the Government’s complaint. It is working its way through the United States judiciary system, as it well should. If you have questions regarding the people mentioned in the US Government complaint, you should contact their legal representatives directly.
Again, South-South News is continuing its professional day-to-day functions by providing some of the most comprehensive, high-quality coverage of the UN and disseminating information on global development issues."
The same indicted Vivian Wang of South South News with David Ng Lap Seng at the same UNCA event
On this, Inner City Press on January 29 sought to cover an UNCA event held in the UN Press Briefing Room, which was nowhere listed as closed. On February 19 Gallach, without recusing herself, unilaterally deactivated Inner City Press UN residential correspondents pass, and had Inner City Press' reporter physically thrown out on First Avenue without coat or passport. Audio here.
This is called retaliation. On the afternoon of April 12, Inner City Press while with another colleague asked Ban about Gallach's orders.
"That is not my decision," Ban said quickly. He is aware; the ouster and censorship serve him, but he says it is not his decision, just as for example Sri Lanka's Mahinda Rajapaksa or higher profile censors might.
On the evening of April 12 Gallach ordered the final eviction of all of Inner City Press' investigative files on Saturday, April 16 at 10 am. This is the face of today's UN corruption.
This is what the UN eviction order sent to Inner City Press says:
To:matthew.lee [at] innercitypress.com
From: Tal Mekel [at] un.org
Date: Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 6:47 PM
Dear Mr. Lee,
Further to the letter to you from Cristina Gallach, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, on 30 March 2016, we note that you did not remove your belongings from the office by the 6 April deadline as required.
As you have still not removed your belongings, we wish to inform you that your belongings will be packaged on Saturday 16 April 2016 at 10:00 a.m.
After carefully packaging them up, your belongings will be forwarded to Bronx NY headquarters address for Inner City Press that you had listed in your media accreditation application. If you wish us to forward your packaged belongings to another address instead, please let us know as soon as possible.
We request your presence during the packing. Please contact the Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit (MALU) to make the necessary arrangements. If you are not present, the packing and forwarding will still take place at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday 16 April 2016.
Media Accreditation and Liaison Unit
United Nations - S-250
New York, NY 10017
And here is some of what the OIOS audit says, about USG Gallach:
"37. On 30 June 2015, Global Sustainability Foundation sponsored an exhibition titled “The Transformative Power of Art” in the visitors’ lobby at United Nations Headquarters. This exhibition was curated by an Italian artist, whose works were displayed along with the works of other artists participating in one of his workshops.
38. Exhibitions in publicly accessible areas at Headquarters are governed by the Secretary General’s Bulletin ST/SGB/2008/6, which stipulates, inter alia, as follows:
(a) The United Nations Exhibits Committee, which is an interdepartmental body of the Secretariat chaired by the Under Secretary General for Communications and Public Information [Cristina Gallach] is the standing body that reviews and authorizes such exhibitions;
(b) Any proposal originating from an NGO or foundation must be accompanied by a written communication of support from a Secretariat department or office, a separately administered organ or programme of the United Nations, an organization of the United Nations system or a permanent or observer mission to the United Nations;
(c) Exhibit proposals focusing on a specific individual, or originating from a single artist, shall not be permitted;
(d) The Exhibits Committee may, at its discretion, reject a proposal for an exhibit in part or in its entirety, or require the elimination or alteration of any part thereof; and
(e) The secretariat of the Exhibits Committee shall inform the Assistant Secretary General, Office of Central Support Services, of the authorization granted for a proposed exhibit.39. OIOS noted that the exhibition held of 30 June 2015 was not in compliance with these provisions. The Exhibits Committee did not authorize the exhibition because it did not receive a proposal in accordance with (b) above. The Chef de Cabinet of the Office of the President of the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly informed the Exhibits Committee of the President’s decision to host a series of major cultural events, which included an exhibition, reception, and concert. The Committee informed the Office of the President that the exhibition was not in accordance with the regulations for exhibits in publicly accessible areas at Headquarters, but the Office of the President decided to proceed with the exhibition anyway. Therefore, the Exhibits Committee did not accept, reject or alter the “proposal”.
40. OIOS notes that the Exhibits Committee only had an advisory role in the matter, and in the circumstances described, it could not have possibly prevented the staging of the event. However, considering that the exhibition was attended by the Secretary-General and other senior Secretariat staff despite its non-compliance with the Secretary-General’s bulletin on exhibits, the perception that the NGO was given preferential treatment or favour (that too without performing any due diligence checks) could have an adverse impact on the Organization’s reputation. This risk is aggravated by the allegations in the criminal complaint against Sun Kian Ip group, with whom this NGO is affiliated."
While Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric has said this audit will not be made public until April 22, on April 6 as a full text exclusive Inner City Press published the audit while noting affiliates the UN audit omitted, and portions of the audit that some involved seem to be trying to cover up, including not only as to the Department of Public Information, but also the Global Compact and other back-doors into the UN, including but not limited to "Friends of the UN."
Beyond the Under Secretary General of the Department of Public Information's responsibility for exhibits in the Visitor's Lobby such as the one indicted Sheri Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation held on June 30, 2015, she was also in charge when GSF was allowed, without any due diligence, to on March 25, 2015 sponsor an event entitled "Unveiling of the 'Ark of Return' Permanent Memorial." Audit at Paragraph 20 (b).
Inner City Press asked the UN about DPI's engagement with the Global Sustainability Foundation around the Ark of Return in October 2015. To be diplomatic, this should have led to / required a recusal.
DPI, the audit says, was "associated" with Ng Lap Seng's and Frank Liu's World Harmony Foundation through something called the "Friends of the UN" based in Los Angeles / Santa Monica. We'll have more on this.
As Inner City Press demonstrated even before publishing the audit, the Global Compact as of April 2016 lists Ng's World Harmony Foundation as a member, despite the October 2015 indictments.
Now we note that the Global Compact, represented at Ng's Macau event in August 2015, has a representative who because not a UN staff member kept the iPad Ng's Sun Kian Ip foundation gifted. What kind of "anti corruption" UN Global Compact is this?
On April 11, after publishing the above, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman Stephane Dujarric about it, and when Ban will answer questions. Video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: onthis OIOS inquiry, I want to ask you something. One of the entities controlled by Mr. Ng Lap Seng is World Harmony Foundation. I don’t know if it was you or Farhan [Haq] last week that said it’s still a member of the Global Compact, but it also seems to partner with DPI (Department of Public Information) is associated through something called Friends of the United Nations, which seems to be based in Santa Monica, California. It’s a little unclear. Can you say, is this one of the ground balls that you guys are going to be running down, in terms of what other groups enter through that way? Also, what explains World Harmony Foundation six months after the indictment still being part of the Global Compact? And one other Global Compact question. The audit specifically says that, of the iPads given out at the Macau event in August, the representative of the Global Compact has not returned it, said that he’s not going to return it. He’s not a staff member and he’s keeping it. It’s right in the audit. And so I wanted to know, since the Global Compact said it’s about transparency, anticorruption, is this okay? And why isn’t he a staff member if he’s representing the Global Compact?
Spokesman Dujarric: I don’t know. That’s a question you should… in terms of World Harmony, whether or not they’re still a member, is a question you can ask of the Global Compact. Obviously, as we said, the audit is an initial step, and other issues are being pursued.
Inner City Press: But are they going… I mean, I guess Global Compact, UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), are they going to hold a press conference?
Spokesman Dujarric: You should ask them. They have press people, like the Secretariat, and they’re there to answer questions.
Inner City Press: And the Secretary-General, you said he’ll be in the room tomorrow, but he won’t speak. Looking at the list of press conferences, it seems like the last one was December of last year…
Spokesman: He will have… there will be some sort of a press conference… there will be a press conference, probably on Friday, tied to the climate event.
Climate of corruption, some say.
To be diplomatic, on April 8 this is what Inner City Press asked Dujarric, video here, UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: this OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services] audit, I obtained it, published it and I want to ask just for today, two specific questions about it. One is, it talks about funds going to this thing called UNPAN, which I've heard of, but it seems to be pretty obscure. And in looking at its website, it claims to be publishing articles they say were published in December 2016, which hasn't actually occurred yet. So, there's something a little… What's been done on the recommendations as to… to UNPAN and the use of its name by the entities that were audited....
Spokesman: The recommend… the audit, I think, as all of you have seen now, includes recommendations and includes the status of those recommendations, and we're following through with them.
Inner City Press: I'd asked Farhan [Haq] yesterday about the 30 June 2015 event in the Visitor's Lobby, which has a section of the whole audit about DPI [Department of Public Information] being in charge of it, not doing it. I want to ask you about another event, which was 25 March, this unveiling of the Ark of Return permit memorial, which they said was no due diligence done of the Global Sustainability Foundation. It seems like, in this audit, they make these two findings about DPI, these two events, but it's only looking at it, I guess, institutionally. As I've asked you, when Global Sustainability Foundation was founded in this building, a senior adviser of the Secretary-General and his spouse were present…
Spokesman: I mean, I think…
Inner City Press: Does this audit look at individuals or only entities…?
Spokesman: The audit looks at… looked at the systems. When there are issues related to individuals, further investigations are being done.
Inner City Press: Right. But, it seems like they only mention the individuals that were in the criminal complaint. There was nothing…
Spokesman: You know, the audit… I think the audit speaks for itself and outlines how we're following up with it.
There is a need for follow up.
The audit cites Ng's Interntional Organization for South South Cooperation's engagements with, or capture of, the UN agency UNPAN, the UN Public Administration Network. A visit on April 8, 2016 toUNPAN's website finds them featuring articles they say were publishd in December 2016 - that is, in the future. Ironically, the article(s) address the topic of corruption. That is today's UN.
The audit for example does purport to cover South South News, but not the big money South South Awards held in September 2015 at the Waldorf Astoria including the Under Secretary General of the Department of Public Information (DPI) Cristina Gallach.
(Inner City Press in October 2015 questioned Ms. Gallach about her participation in the South South Awards, video here. On February 19, 2016 Gallach ordered Inner City Press to leave its long time office and stripped its Resident Correspondent accreditation, without once speaking to it. This is the subject of an April 5 letter to Ban Ki-moon from the Government Accountability Project, demanding that this “crude and heavy handed” retaliation be reversed, watch this site.)
On April 7, Inner City Press asked UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq a first round of questions about some of the limitations of the audio,video here,
UN transcript here:
Inner City Press: I've now obtained and published this OIOS audit of selected NGOs and related entity that you said will come out on 22 April. And there's different things I want to ask you about it, but main thing I want to ask about is, there's an entire section that runs from paragraph 37 through paragraph 40 that it's about an exhibit they say was improperly held in the Visitor's Lobby on 30 June 2015. And it goes through a lot of detail, and it says that the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Public Information is in charge of the exhibits committee and, I guess, in charge of the space. And somehow, this exhibit was held in violation of a number of the rules that apply to it. What I'm wondering is, what is the response? Obviously, it seems like you guys have had access to this audit even before it was sent to Member States. What is the thinking… the way they walk through it is they say… it seems strange. If she's in charge of the space and the exhibit took place without complying with the rules, what is the response to her responsibility for that? And what steps have been taken? The audit doesn't say that any steps have yet been taken to address that.
Deputy Spokesman Haq: Well, with regard to the specific cases referred to in the audit, actions being taken to determine responsibility and any follow-up and any measures that may be deemed appropriate. And so, we'll continue to study that.
Inner City Press: And who decides? In getting the audit, there obviously is a long section about South-South News, but I noticed that a related entity of which there's been a lot of coverage is South-South Awards. And it's unclear, it's not mentioned once in here. And this is something that… I mean, the Secretary-General received the South-South Award. This is an entity that's absolutely connected to Ng Lap Seng and Frank Lorenzo et al. So, the question is, who… maybe that's OIOS, but who decided on the scope of this audit, the date that it would start, 1 January 2012, and the exclusion of… of… one of the things that people covering this scandal have focused on are these glitzy events in the Waldorf. The Under-Secretary-General of DPI did attend in September, but prior to that, Ms. [Susana] Malcorra took an award for Ban [Ki-moon]. Why is this not in the audit? And will there be an audit of South-South Awards going forward?
Deputy Spokesman Haq: I think the audit is what it is. It's prepared by the professional people in the Office of Internal Oversight who deal with audits. And you can evaluate the results for yourself.
Inner City Press: And just one other thing I wanted to ask about, because I know I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric] and you, going back to October, about the inclusion of South-South News content in UN Television archives. And, eventually, you came back with this answer that it was due to Habitat. And I just… I've pointed out to you that there's a number of things that have nothing to do with Habitat, a number of inclusions that you just search UNTV for "South-South News". But, I do notice in this audit that there is a reference to South-South News and Habitat. So, I wanted to know, was this finding that you said of people looking into how it got in there, was it basically just taken from reading the audit, or was there a… a… a… an analysis, either by your office or DPI, of how the many other inclusions of South-South News and UNTV archives took place?
Deputy Spokesman: No, our office had checked with DPI. That was prior to us knowing about the results of the audit.
Similarly, using timing as a basis of omission, by stopping the audit at January 1, 2012, OIOS did not address the issue of Ng's South South News getting a photo op directly with Ban Ki-moon in December 2011 at the UN Correspondents Association ball at Cipriani's 42nd Street after giving money to UNCA including for a two page ad spread in UNCA's “ball book.”
While Dujarric's deputy Farhan Haq allowed four UNCA board members from Reuters, France 24 and Agence France Presse to seek to rebut this including by directly addressing Inner City Press in the noon briefing on April 6, the cut-off at January 1, 2012 is problematic, especially as related to Ban Ki-moon himself.
The audit goes out of its way to say that Ban's Executive Office of the Secretary General did not know when a letter to it was modified to add the name of Ng's firm and of South South News. How is that possible? And again, why was Ban's direct dealing with Ng cut out from the audit by a matter of days?
Many of the irregularities in the audit are things first reported by Inner City Press, such as Yan's Global Sustainability Foundation funding the UN's slavery memorial, including an engagement with Gallach's DPI which even the audit criticizes while DPI tries to deny.
Undeniable is that Gallach chaired the UN Exhibits Committee which allowed the bogus “Transformative Power of Art” exhibit on June 30, 2015.
How does Gallach's no due process ouster of Inner City Press on February 19, 2016, when Inner City Press was thrown into the street and its laptop on the sidewalk by eight UN guards, look now that the audit is out? Even with the audit inexplicably omitting the South South Awards -- Ban Ki-moon got one of the awards -- the audit chides DPI for lack of due diligence for its slavery event, and Gallach as chair of the Exhibit Committee which allowed the Jun 30, 2015 “Transformative Power of Art” exhibit.
Gallach, who was questioned by Inner City Press about her role at the South South Awards with Frank Lorenzo, had a conflict of interest and should never have been near the decision to thrown Inner City Press out of the UN.
That decision must be reversed, as the Government Accountability Project has asked Ban, even before Inner City Press published the specifics of the audit.
Courthouse News Service of April 6 reports on GAP's first letter:
"The Government Accountability Project complained about Lee's fallout in a Feb. 26 letter to the U.S. Permanent Mission of the United Nations.
'The action targeted Matthew Lee alone, and appears to be retaliatory in response to independent, critical journalism,' wrote Beatrice Edwards, the project's international program director.
UNCA, the group whose meeting Lee got in trouble for recording, has denied the appearance of unfairness. 'UNCA stands for press freedom and vehemently defends rights of journalists at the UN and around the world,' the statement says."
Really? Where? It was the Free UN Coalition for Access asking this month about the UN requiring minders, not only in UN Headquarters but also in South Sudan. The Courthouse News continues:
"Lee blasted what he described as 'post-hoc' justifications for his ouster, which he compared to a Franz Kafka novel. 'Initially, they tried to say that I secretly filmed a closed meeting,' he said.
'That's fallen apart because the meeting wasn't recorded as closed.' Lee laughed off allegations that he entered a restricted area to secretly film the meeting, which he broadcast via a popular web-casting platform. 'It's hard to say that a Periscope live-streaming with my arms up is secret,' he said.
By downgrading his residential correspondent credentials to a second-tier status, the U.N. has restricted Lee's freedom of movement, forced him to be chaperoned by a minder."
That's right, a UN minder courtesy of UN Communications chief Cristina Gallach and ultimately, Ban Ki-moon. In terms of violations, and cover up, see Paragraphs 37 through 40 of the OIOS audit.
OIOS Audit of Ng & South South News, OIOS Cut Out Ban Photo Op with Ng at UNCA Ball by Matthew Russell Lee
Inner City Press on April 5 asked if Ng's World Harmony Foundation is still part of the UN Global Compact; deputy spokesperson Haq said he would check but never came back with an answer. On April 6 Inner City Press asked again and Haq said yes - now we see it is confirmed and criticized in the audit.
Worse while Inner City Press from October 2015 on asked Dujarric and Haq how South South News got its content in the UNTV archives run by Gallach's DPI, Haq belatedly mentioned only one use, connected to HABITAT. Now we see the HABITAT - South South News interaction is listed in the audit, which it seems Haq consulted before answering (and whatever else he did with the audit).
But why didn't OIOS look into South South News' OTHER inclusions in DPI's archives of UNTV? Watch this site.
Another question, now more poignant with the full audit online, is why the wire services reporters from Reuters and Agence France Presse, on the Executive Committee of the UN Correspondents Association which took Ng's South South News' money and then gave Ng a photo op with Ban Ki-moon, didn't even MENTION that DPI, their partner in censorship, was listed and criticized in the audit.
Not only the South South Awards, but the the Gallach-approved bogus exhibition criticized in detail in the audit is nowhere in their reports. Hence the April 6 threat and April 6 noon briefing, video here. We'll have more on this